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Types And Sizes Of Car Subwoofers Explained

When you’re trying to be careful about your car audio, you’ll probably notice that your subwoofer plays an important role in the entire system.

Not only does it add a bit of extra oomph, but it also gives your music a lot of depth, completing the sound and making everything a bit better.

However, if ever you’ve tried choosing a subwoofer, you’ll notice instantly that choosing the right one is a tricky thing.

With that in mind, we’ll take a look at a few different types and sizes of subwoofers, so you know what to choose when shopping.

Types of Subwoofer

Even though there is a vast variety of subwoofer types, there are four main types that you’ll want to take note of. They’re all good options, but they’re not for everyone, because individual people have individual needs.

Vehicle-specific Subwoofers

These are the ones you probably won’t need if you care about audio quality. They’re vehicle specific, which means that on one hand, they were tailor made to fit your vehicle (including interior color).

But on the other, sound quality took a back seat. With these subwoofers, you won’t have any issues with installation, but as we mentioned, you won’t get that extra oomph you’d want.

Component Subwoofers

Component subwoofers are what’s known as a “barebones” subwoofer – you get just the speaker itself.

You’ll need to put it in an enclosure in order to work well, and you’ll have to pick the right enclosure to make the most of them. They also require an external amplifier, and can usually work on both low, and high power.

If you’re looking to build an entire system from the ground up, component subwoofers are a good choice for you.

You’ll be able to pick and choose the rest of the parts of the subs, which is neat, and you can end up with a system that’s just right for your needs and requirements – as personalized as they come.

Enclosed Subwoofers

Enclosed subwoofers take a component subwoofer, and put it in an enclosure that’s specifically made for that sub.

They’re the logical next step up, and are a good choice if you don’t have a lot of time to design and build everything yourself.

On one hand, the enclosure you’ll get with them is a good choice because it has been designed to make the most out of that specific sub. It also lets you focus on the other components a bit more, instead of spending time building the subwoofer enclosure.

On the other hand, an enclosed subwoofer won’t get you the same bass reproduction quality of component subwoofers. And yes, they’ll still require an amp.

Powered Subwoofers

The last type of subwoofer is the powered subwoofer, and this has one single goal – make everything as compact as possible. Of course, not only is that goal met, but you also don’t need an external amp, and you don’t need to build an enclosure.

It’s all a single, compact box, and won’t take up a lot of room in your car. To add to this, you can usually fit a powered subwoofer in places where you wouldn’t be able to fit anything else.

On one hand, Powered subwoofers are easier to install than a dedicated sub/amp combo. But on the other, sound quality and raw power isn’t particularly impressive.

Of course, this is to be expected from a compact solution, but we would honestly suggest only going this route if you’re really limited with space.

Otherwise, you won’t get a lot out of it, and whether or not it’s worth it is a question you’ll have to answer.

Different Sizes of Subwoofers

Just like with types, you’ll find subwoofers at different sizes, too.

However, bigger isn’t always better, and with the subwoofer size it’s all about finding the right size that fits your needs and requirements. You’ll come across 8, 10, 12 and 15 inch subwoofers, so let’s take a look at all of them.

One thing to note is that you should consider the type of subwoofer before the size when shopping.

See what kind your car needs, whether or not you’ll be buying an amplifier, and then see what size best suits your car, and the music you’re listening to. Each size has its own pros and cons, so make sure you choose carefully.

8-inch Subwoofers

If you’re after a small and wallet-friendly option, 8-inch subwoofers are probably your best bet. You’ll find that most of the factory systems that come preinstalled on cars usually have one or two of these, too.

In this case, upgrading them is incredibly easy because you can just use the factory location to install them. Or put them under your seat – they work there, too.

Now, while some might say that an 8-inch subwoofer is too small, you’ll actually find that the bass delivery is very clean and accurate. If you aren’t looking for a big, powerful punch, but instead, a clear and clean bass, this is it.

The small cone allows for a quick response, which is great if you’re listening to things like classic rock, for example. You’ll want a good pair of door speakers to go along with them, though.

10-inch Subwoofers

A step up from 8-inch subwoofers, the 10-inch models are slightly more powerful and get you a bit more of a punch. They’re still compact enough so you can install them easily, and they can fit in a lot of places in your car, too.

A 10-inch subwoofer is usually a good choice if you want to bring your music to life for one simple reason – it can draw in the extra air you need to keep the response quick and accurate.

And that’s why it’s perfect for things like jazz, pop, or even blues.

12-inch Subwoofers

If we’re talking versatility, 12-inch subwoofers are where it’s at. This is a common aftermarket upgrade, and is a very popular choice for people who want a powerful punch that works great with a variety of music genres.

You’ll have a bit of a problem when it comes to fitting them as they are big . That being said, there are some shallow mount 12-inch models that come in a little smaller footprint. They’re best for slow paced music like blues or rap, that’s where they really shine.

15-inch Subwoofers

The largest subwoofers you’ll probably come across, 15-inch subwoofers are very, very powerful. But that does come at a price – you don’t get the tight responsiveness you’ll get with a smaller sub.

And to add to this, unless you have a good set of car speakers to go with them, you’ll find that the bass overpowers everything else – not ideal if you’re looking for a quality solution.

On the other hand, if you already have a high quality system that can deliver a lot of power, and you find yourself listening to bass-heavy music like hip hop or EDM, you’ll actually love a 15-inch subwoofer.

It’s able to move large amounts of air and produce the heavy bass that’s commonly found in such genres, without a lot of trouble.

Michael Brown is the founder of, a website that provides car audio installation guides and tips. A self-taught car audio enthusiast, Michael has been installing and modifying car stereo systems for over 15 years.

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